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LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING SENIORS & DISABLED


    Stealing Our Vote & Our Voices

                                 
                              (Elbridge Gerry -  One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence)


Gerrymandering: Stealing our vote & our voice



Elbridge Gerry, one of the signers of our Declaration

of Independence, is generally credited with creating the idea of

Gerrymandered voting districts. But this American patriot, would

turn over in his grave if he knew how his concept has crippled

our voting voice in America.



In 1811, as Gerry was governor of Massachusetts, the leading

party of the legislature (the Jeffersonian-Democrats, followers

of the values of Thomas Jefferson) devised a plan to isolate the

voters of the opposing party (the Federalists led by John

Adams).

Gerry signed it into law. The plan isolated the Federalist voters

into a few districts and successfully weakened the impact of the

Federalist votes. Later, a Boston newspaper coined the term

Gerrymander forever tying Gerry to the concept.



But as time has passed, this concept has become highly

sophisticated at dividing or concentrating voting groups and

ethnic groups into or out of voting districts. Complicated

formulas and computer programs exist that are capable of

analyzing the projected way every person will (likely) vote.

Then this is plugged into a plan devised by the party in power

and shortly after the U.S. census, voting district boundaries are

redrawn.



The intent by the political party in power will be to concentrate a

chosen block of voters into a voting district (called packing) by

moving the district lines. Another intent is to break up a block of

voters by placing small groups into different districts thus

making their vote useless to their party (called cracking). Often

voters will not know that they are part of a 'cracked' district and

their vote is lost in a sea of opposing votes. The result from

combining these processes is that our vote means less and the

district becomes a voting block. Yet, voters do not understand

how much this is occurring.



In Local & State elections, the party in power may also move a

boundary to eliminate a strong candidate or to bring one of their

own into a district.


                        


Then add in voter ID and restricted voting times which is

estimated to reduce the vote by 1-2% across the general

population. However, among seniors or in ethnic districts this

impact is magnified to as much as a 6-8% loss in voting

effectiveness. Both poor and ethnic districts can be substantially

effected while leaving registered voters in preferred districts

untouched.



When we remember that many elections are won or lost by a

margin of 1-2% and we can see the potential impact of these

two changes.



Now, examining the total impact of Gerrymandering...



If the party in power has organized their districts well, they will

control between 55% and 70% of the voting districts in a State.

They may also have moved an opposing candidate out of that

candidate's strong district and into a weaker district. It also

means that the party will have the majority of the seats in the

legislature, both State and Federal.



But, they will also have greater control over county

governments including the courts, the district attorney, the

sheriff, and county management. Within all this, the party will

expect these politicians to tow the mark; In other words, to act

or vote along dictated party lines.



If a politician should waver from this party policy, that person

may loose his or her party support in a subsequent primary

election and most likely, have a strong party-supported

candidate opposing them.



Examples:

(1) In 2012, Party use of Gerrymandering is credited with

punishing Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in his primary battle with

tea party challenger (Indiana state treasurer) Richard Mourdock

(R) for the seat Lugar had held since 1977.


Mourdock's supporters cast Lugar as too moderate and out of

touch after 35 years in the Senate. Tea party conservatives

argued Mourdock would provide more "purity" and wouldn't

bow to compromise with Democrats. Consiquently, Sen. Lugar

lost in the primary. But, Richard Murdock was the guy who said

'God intended rape.' Because of this statement, he ultimately lost in the 2012

election.



(2) It was also rumored that because Wis State Senator Dave


Schultz (R) had voted as he thought his constituents wanted


instead of along GOP party lines. The result of this was that his



campaign funding was shifted to Howard Marklein (R) of Spring


Green, Wis. Schultz pulled out of the election. Marklein had an


easy win.


Schul
tz, then blasted his party for many of the tactics they’ve

been using, not just in Wisconsin, but all over the country.
We

are now literally dismantling the state government, and people

need to think long and hard about what they want for a future in

our state,” he said.



(3) Similar to Richard Murdock in Indiana, 2012 Tea party

candidate Todd Akin in Missouri was considered to have a 'lock'

over the district of Senator Claire McCaskill (D). Because it was a

highly Republican Gerrymandered district, it would be an easy

win for him. But then Akin made the statement, “If it’s a

legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that

whole thing down.” The news media jumped on the quote and

turned the election. McCaskill easily defeated Akin.


What the party in power isn’t able to able to control with

Gerrymandering are the elections for Governor, Senators and the

US President. These are state wide elections. However, the

voting process and the vote counting is still under the control of

the party in power. Any voting infractions also fall under the

control of the local party elected officials. When there's no

media oversight, enforcement of laws can often happen along

party lines.


But Gerrymandering has an Achilles heal, one significant

weakness that in recent years, has usually gone unaddressed.

And that is news. News can arouse the wrath of voters. It can

open minds.



News information needs to be viewed differently from campaign

information. It's generally slower in turning minds. But it's

powerful and the printed word is very strong.


Conservatives and Fox have been way ahead of Liberals in this

area for decades. In 1983, Midge Decter of Commentary

Magazine, at the first national conference for the Collegiate

Network said, “Ideas and the study of ideas and the

transmission of ideas rule the world.
As we learned from the Tet

offensive during the Vietnam War, for instance, even so hard

and material thing as a military victory is not a military victory if

those who report it refuse to say so
. I do not have to tell you

how one battles against bad and false ideas.


So, yes there is an antidote for a Gerrymandering infection?

But the treatment is slow to work and there will be resistance.

But the medicine is... News! Real news!



For hundreds of years, a strong army of newspapers fought for

stories and dug into all levels of our government. However, the

internet changed that, leaving newspapers loosing money and in

turmoil and this age old protection system in disrepair. As

reported in 'Dollarocracy' by Nichols, now days, much important

investigative news goes unreported.


Gerrymandering combined with weak news reporting can create

a power surplus the voting districts and can easily allow people

to feel empowered beyond what is reasonable. This opens the

door to various levels of corruption. The most healthy American

government is when both sides are battling on a reasonably

equal footing. Then each side is watching the other and we have

a strong check and balance system and room for compromise.

Then salt this combination with a good dose of news reporting

and we have the government that was designed by our

forefathers (including Elbridge Gerry).


But, when everything is quiet and peaceful in our government,

beware! “Absolute power, corrupts absolutely.”



                                                                                 ####
                                                                           End     5-17-15



     
     Justice Ann Walsh Bradley Endorsed by 
        District Attorneys, Sheriffs, Judges 
          and Law Enforcement Officials


   The following is a letter to the editor regarding Justice Bradley....

 

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Kory Kozloski

(608) 213-7650


Madison, WI – A bipartisan group of over 30 District Attorneys from across the state have announced their support for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the Bradley campaign announced today.  The District Attorneys join over 300 Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Judges, and law enforcement officials who have endorsed Justice Bradley’s re-election. 

"Justice Bradley has spent twenty years on the Supreme Court standing up for the constitution and the people of Wisconsin,” said Portage County District Attorney Louis J. Molepske Jr.  “She’s been tough, fair, impartial, and has never stopped working to keep the people of Wisconsin safe. I’m proud to join with so many District Attorneys and law enforcement officials in supporting her today.”

Justice Bradley said she was “honored to have the support of District Attorneys from all across Wisconsin. As a Marathon County Circuit Court judge I saw their work firsthand and I recognize their dedication to the law, to their communities and to making our criminal justice system work for everyone.” 

For the last two decades Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has served the people of Wisconsin on the Supreme Court.  She was first elected in 1995, becoming only the third woman in the state’s history to win election to Wisconsin’s highest court. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court Justice Bradley was a Circuit Court Judge for ten years in Marathon County. 

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices are elected in the non-partisan April elections for 10-year terms. Election Day is April 7, 2015.


List of District Attorneys Endorsing Justice Bradley’s Re-Election Campaign:

District Attorney Tania Bonnett – Adams County

District Attorney Angela Beranek – Barron County

District Attorney Frederick Bourg – Bayfield County

District Attorney William Norine – Burnett County

District Attorney Timothy Baxter – Crawford County

District Attorney Ismael Ozanne – Dane County

District Attorney Daniel Blank – Douglas County

District Attorney Gary King – Eau Claire County

District Attorney Chuck Simono – Forest County

District Attorney Lisa Riniker – Grant County

District Attorney Larry Nelson – Iowa County

District Attorney Susan Happ – Jefferson County

District Attorney Robert Zapf – Kenosha County

District Attorney Andrew Naze – Kewaunee County

District Attorney Tim Gruenke – La Crosse County

District Attorney Ralph Uttke – Langlade County

District Attorney Kenneth Heimerman – Marathon County

District Attorney Allen Brey – Marinette County

District Attorney John Chisholm – Milwaukee County

Former District Attorney E. Michael McCann – Milwaukee County  

District Attorney Jon Seifert – Pepin County

District Attorney Daniel Steffen – Polk County

District Attorney Louis Molepske Jr. – Portage County

District Attorney Mark Fuhr – Price County

District Attorney Jennifer Harper – Richland County

Former District Attorney Michael O’Brien – Rock County

District Attorney Joseph DeCecco – Sheboygan County

District Attorney Eric Johnson – St. Croix County

District Attorney Kristi Tlusty – Taylor County

District Attorney Taaavi McMahon – Trempealeau County

District Attorney Thomas H. Frost – Washburn County 


                                                                                   End                      March 26, 2015
                                                                                  ****
Letter to the editor regarding Justice Ann Walsh Bradley


To the Editor,

In this time of partisan divide, we join together in our support of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.  We share her commitment to maintaining a Wisconsin Supreme Court that is fair, neutral and non-partisan.  We strongly urge her re-election on April 7.

Each of us comes from a different background. We belong to different political parties. But we all know and respect Justice Bradley. She is intelligent, she has enormous integrity and she believes to her core that our courts must remain free of outside special interest influences in order to fulfill their role in America’s democratic system.

We also know Justice Bradley has deep Wisconsin roots. A native of Richland Center, she and her husband raised their four children in Wausau where they still live.  She cares deeply about our State and shares the values we hold dear: hard work, family, community and service to others.

Justice Bradley has served the people of Wisconsin with distinction for 20 years, making tough but fair decisions based on the law and the facts. She is a Wisconsin leader of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s non-partisan effort to enhance civics education and has worked tirelessly to increase understanding of how our courts work.

Justice Bradley has taken leadership roles in organizations working nationally and around the world to promote the rule of law. That’s exactly the kind of Justice we want – and deserve – on our state’s highest court. We hope you will join with us in voting to re-elect Justice Ann Walsh Bradley on April 7.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sue Ann Thompson, First Lady of Wisconsin

(R- Wisconsin, 1987-2001)

Ron Kind, Congressman for Wisconsin’s

3rd district (D – Wisconsin, 1997-Present)

Dale Schultz, Wisconsin State Senator

(R – Richland Center, 1991-2015)



Tim Cullen, Wisconsin State Senator

(D – Janesville, 1975-1987, 2011-2015)

 


       The following is a press release received from the campaign committee for Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

Bi-Partisan Leaders Endorse Justice Bradley

Sue Ann Thompson, Congressman Ron Kind, Sen. Dale Schultz, and Sen. Tim Cullen, announce their support.


For Immediate Release

February 16, 2015
Contact: Kory Kozloski

(608) 213-7650


Madison, WI –Today, former Wisconsin First Lady Sue Ann Thompson (R- Wisconsin, 1987-2001), Congressman Ron Kind, (D – Wisconsin, 1997-Present), State Senator Dale Schultz (R – Richland Center, 1991-2015), and State Senator Tim Cullen (D – Janesville, 1975-1987, 2011-2015) officially announced their support for Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.


This distinguished bi-partisan group of political leaders joins more than 100 law enforcement officials who endorsed Justice Bradley for re-election last week.


In this time of partisan divide, we join together in our support of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley,” said former Wisconsin First Lady Sue Ann Thompson. “We share her commitment to maintaining a Wisconsin Supreme Court that is fair, neutral and non-partisan.”


Former Republican State Senator Dale Schultz added, “Each of us comes from a different background. We belong to different political parties. But we all know and respect Justice Bradley. She is intelligent, she has enormous integrity and she believes to her core that our courts must remain free of outside special interest influences.”


She cares deeply about our State and shares the values we hold dear: hard work, family, community and service to others,” added Congressman Kind.


Justice Bradley has served the people of Wisconsin with distinction for 20 years, making tough but fair decisions based on the law and the facts,” concluded former Democratic State Senator Tim Cullen. “That’s exactly the kind of Justice we want – and deserve – on our state’s highest court.”


Thompson, Kind, Schultz, and Cullen announced that they would be sending a joint letter to the editor to news outlets around the state supporting Justice Bradley.


For the last two decades Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has served the people of Wisconsin on the Supreme Court. She was first elected in 1995, becoming only the third woman in the state’s history to win election to Wisconsin’s highest court. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court Justice Bradley was a Circuit Court Judge for ten years in Marathon County.


Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices are elected in the non-partisan April elections for 10-year terms. Election Day is April 7, 2015.



###



New WISCONSIN Rental Law May Cause PROBLEMS
for Seniors & Disabled

    Last month, Governor Walker signed in changes to the Wisconsin Tenant-Landlord laws.  Critics say that Madison rushed the law (SB466) through on a mostly partisan basis, causing errors to be left in the wording.  As a result, they say many tenant and landlord rights are now unclear.

    Representatives of one tenants’ rights organization expressed concern that security deposits will be harder to recover by tenants because SB466 removes the penalties against landlords.

    Several organizations expressed concern regarding a new provision allowing landlords to easily dispose of the tenants’ personal property should the landlord believe the tenant will not be returning to the rental property.  There is added concern as to how landlords will interpret this provision if a tenant ends up in a care center or nursing home for several weeks or longer.

    Most critics agree that the changes are causing confusion and that some landlords may misinterpret their rights.  There is also confusion as to how SB466 will interact with local ordinances created to be compatible with the old law.

    One provision forbade tenants from notifying local officials of dangerous code violations such as a broken water heater or furnace.  However, it appears that this provision was ultimately removed.

    Yet, unless more of these alleged errors are corrected by Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature, it is likely that SB466 will need to go through the expensive process of being tested in our court system before we know what it means, say renters’ advocates.

    “We don’t know how this law will be interpreted,” said Attorney Heidi Wegleitner of Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc.

    “This could make it more difficult for tenants to get help from private attorneys,” added Wegleitner.

    A portion of a flyer put out by the Tenant Resource Center of Madison says, “…It’s all very complicated.  What your lease says, when something happens, where you live and the details of the situation will all impact what rights you have...”          Renters were advised to call for help.

 

    Three organizations available to help renters are as follows:

The Tenant Resource Center - 1202 Williamson St. Suite 102, Madison, WI

Call the Tenant Resource Center before signing any lease or if you have any questions.

Phone: 608-257-0006,    1-877-238-RENT

Email asktrc@tenantresourcecenter.org

LEGAL ACTION OF WISCONSIN INC. – 31 S. Mills St., Madison, WI 53715-1307

Intake line: 608-256-3258,   608-256-3304(local)   1-800-362-3904 (toll free)

FAX: 608-256-0510

LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF MILWAUKEE INC. – 521 N. 8th Street, Milwaukee, WI

Phone 414-727-5300,     Fax 414-291-5488

 

Below is a listing as to how State Representatives from  Southeastern Wisconsin voted:

Voting to implement the rental law changes appears to have been along party line.

  Representative
VOTED
FOR THE
   NEW SB466

  Representative
VOTED
AGAINST
THE NEW SB466

Rep. August    (R)

Rep. Barca       (D)

Rep. Craig      (R)

Rep. Jorgensen (D

Rep.  Honadel  (R)

Rep. Krusi        (D

Rep. Kerkman  (R)

Rep. Mason      (D)

Rep. Knilans    (R)

Rep. Turner       (D)

Rep. Kuglitsch  (R)

 

Rep. Loudenbeck (R)

 

Rep. Nass         (R)

 

Rep. Stone        (R)

 

Rep. Vos           (R)

 

     Senator
   VOTED FOR
THE NEW SB466

       Senator
VOTED AGAINST
THE NEW SB466

Sen. Darling       (R)

Sen. Carpenter (D)

Sen. Fitzgerald   (R)

Sen. Cullen      (D)

Sen. Kedzie        (R)

Sen. Larson     (D)

Sen. Lazich         (R)

Sen.  Wirch     (D)

Sen. Wanggaard  (R)


Sen. Zipperer     (R)

 

    Other representatives voting for or against were not included because they were not considered to be part of the Southeastern Wisconsin area or did not vote.  For a complete listing how Wisconsin’s Senators & Representatives voted, the reader may click on the following:   SB466  

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